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Book Expo America Education. (2011) Michael Moore interview.

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Michael Moore 6, Michigan 5, Texas 4, Us 3, America 3, Northern Michigan 2, Hubert Humphrey 2, New York 2, Washington D.c. 2, Mom 2, Richard Nixon 2, New York City 2, Vietnam 1, Afghanistan 1, Laverne 1, Austin 1, Europe 1, Pennsylvania 1, Gainesville 1, Arlington 1,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Book Expo America  Education.   
   (2011) Michael Moore interview.  

    September 5, 2011
    6:30 - 7:00pm EDT  

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and ear later, they got earth days. they got the clean water act. they got the clean it water act and 11 long years of organizing leaders. they got a moratorium on offshore drilling in some places. what happened here was that those photographs, particularly of the brown pelicans soaked in oil, the state bird of louisiana, captured people, captured our hearts and our minds. at those picture started to go away and i think most people
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assumed in the pictures were going away because what? oiled birds were going away, right? less oiled birds, less images. that is not what happened. what i was able to track in the book as the number of oiled birds was increasing the number of photographs was decreasing. we started to be threatened within being in jail if we went within 40 feet of tomb. if we went onto beaches where there was oil. i was trying to go out on boats to take pitchers and to talk to people, to go out into the water near the boom and when the person who was driving the boat found out i was a book author they wouldn't take me because they said i will get a 40,000-dollar fine and you will get thrown in jail. i went on the beaches even though it meant risking being thrown into jail and i did what i could to try to tell this story, and we all did our best to do it. at the story became very difficult to tell, and i knew that was going to happen and that is when i decided very
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early on that this was going to require more than an article, more than a few days. it was going to require a full book of investigation and it was going to require as many questions as possible in those communities most affected. i basically spent my time, and i also realize my previous books and interviews are really policy books. my background is public policy. i've worked for two united unitd states members of congress. my masters is in in public policy from georgetown. this was going to need to be a very different book and it is really a book that is the human story of the human impact in the people who are impacted on all sides. i talked to people employed in the oil industry, oil executive, environmentalist, policymakers. i spent a good deal of time in washington d.c. talking to people here, policymakers herein down there. and, the story that is told, and
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just to say, i was just overwhelmed by the graciousness of people at the hardest point in their lives taking me in. >> can watch this and other programs on line at booktv.org. >> michael moore it is may 2011 and you have a book coming out in september 2011. it does not have a name. >> it does as of this morning. >> what is the name? >> it is called here comes trouble. >> here comes trouble. why did you come up with that title? >> it is actually, they are short stories that i have written, but they are nonfiction short story so they are stories from my life. i've written a couple dozen stories about the years before people knew who i was, before my first film so these are from when i was a small child all the way through my 20s and it sort of shows how i ended up like
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this. [laughter] and i believe the book cover -- i saw a picture of it here today and i said thank god it is a picture of me as a 2-year-old and across the top it says here comes trouble. >> were you trouble as a two -year-old and a 10-year-old? >> well, not trouble as in getting in trouble. but you know, my parents did things to me that caused trouble, like my mom taught me to read and to write when i was four years old. this is a dangerous thing to learn how to read at an early age. so when i went to school, you know in first grade, i was already reading books and i was sitting there singing along abcd, eefj and you know you learn as early on as a child, the other kids are not going to like you if you are too smart. so i had to kind of fake like i was trying to remember the
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letters, a, b, c, d, you know? so they would like me. i remember coming home and i was so bored with school. why did you teach me how to read and write so early? and the nuns, i went to catholic school. the none saw this and they one day decided to skip me. i was in first grade and they moved me up to the second grade. i came home all excited, mom, mom i'm in second grade. no you were not. she got on the phone and called mother superior. i want him with children his own age. don't move him up the grade in the next day i got moved back. and then i was just bored through most of school. what does the child do when he is bored? but to cause trouble. >> who were or are your parents? >> my mother, her name was veronica moore. she passed away in 2002, a wonderful, great mother to have.
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i write about her in the book. my dad is still with us. he is turning 90 this summer. his name is frank moore. grew up on the eastside of flint. both of my parents came from irish catholic families, and my mom's family actually were pioneers in the area. they first came here in the 1830s in michigan. that my dad's family, you know they all went -- worked for factories and all that. they have all been great influences on me and feel very fortunate to have been. >> how often do you get back to flint? >> i am there every month. i live north of flint in northern michigan so my dad still lives down there. i am down there once or twice a month, spend a number of days there. he still drives and goes to mass mass every day, ghosted gym.
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clearly i did not obey him. but, no, i visit flint quite a bit and of course all of my friends are still there. >> a politically active family? >> i wouldn't say politically active? one of the first things i remember is my parents debating kennedy and nixon and my mom was for nixon and my dad was for kennedy. i can remember them out in the garage amid the boxes or whatever having this political debate in my dad being appalled because we are catholic and he would be our first catholic president. my mom's family, her dad was the head of the republican party in the area in the early part of the 20th century, and republicans back then, when they said conservative dave meant don't spend money you don't have. not a bad idea. conserve the air and conserve the water. the gifts that god gave us, this earth. and of course there was the
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party of lincoln. they were very much against slavery and against discrimination and all that, so i had that republican other -- mother and a father was a hard-core democrat. >> what about active in the uaw politics? >> my dad was -- still is a retiree. he worked on the assembly line building sparkplugs for ac spark plugs for almost 35 years, and my uncle was in the sitdown strike in flint in the 1930s. >> lavern? >> laverne, yeah. did you know him? [laughter] yes, he was in the sitdown strike which i think this year is going to be the 75th anniversary of that. this strike in flint created the uaw and really made it first contract with general motors handed knighted the labor
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movement in the 1930s across the country. >> michael moore at what point in your life do you remember your sense of political right and wrong come into play? >> that is a good question. i had a cousin who lived in new york city and her dad was a state assemblyman, roosevelt democrat and she would come there. we would alternate. she would come one summer to michigan and i would come to new york city. she was a little older. her name was pat and she talked my sisters and i a lot about politics even at a very young age. i remember first and second grade, she having me memorize john f. kennedy's inaugural address. i was able to do it in by the second grade, this was what was a little freaky about me. here is this little kid wandering around, you know, and i tried to do the accent. ask god -- i am a little tight.
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ask god not what this country can do for you. so, i think if you come out of an irish catholic tradition, you can't help but not be engaged in what is going on around you and also you can help not have a sense of humor about it too because it is the thing that protects you from you know, all that is, so yeah, i don't know. i think being part of that whole situation. >> so you were about nine years old when jfk was assassinated. do you remember that? >> i remember it real well. >> do you write about that? >> yeah. i write about how we were actually watching educational television and they broke in and they must have switched over to nbc's coverage. chet huntley was on and announced it and of course all the nuns took us all over to church and we were praying so that he would live.
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two days later i'm sitting on the carpet in the living room at home watching tv in my bomb is vacuuming. they bring oswald out, and here you are, you are nine or 10 years old and -- nine years old and you were watching someone being shot to death live on television. i remember yelling, mom, mom they shot oswald. she could not hear me because she was vacuuming. i reached over and pulled the plug out of the wall. look at this. and, you know she was the kind of mom who, of course the first thing is oh my god, not another -- this week has already been dark and horrible. in my childhood to witness this, how do i explain this? so, strong memories of all of that. >> michael moore, 1968 richard nixon gets elected.
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what was your view at that point? did you care? >> well actually i read about this. this isn't really a tell-all type of book but i do admit that i went campaigning for richard nixon. [laughter] i was in ninth grade, and i will tell you what happened. i was very much for robert kennedy and eugene mccarthy who didn't get the nomination. hubert humphrey got it, and he and johnson were responsible for this war. i just could not get behind hubert humphrey. i am in ninth grade. what do i know? but i just thought nixon said at a secret plan to end the war and he was going to and it in six months and that sounded good to me. so i remember going out campaigning and i was actually going to the seminary at the time. i left home at 14. my parents let me go to the seminary because i wanted to be a priest. and i remember the bishop one
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day ask me to come over and do some yard work, and i think he had heard that i was out campaigning for nixon. he wanted to ask me, why are you doing that? he wanted to educate me about nixon's past and all this. his name was bishop hickey. he went on to become the archbishop and the cardinal in washington d.c. in the 1980s, very outspoken advocate against war in central america and all that. but it was one of those early encounters, where somebody is trying to set me straight and of course then nixon got elected and did all of these horrible things and continued the war and all that. obviously i have never looked back, but i've never wanted to admit that either so i just. >> what happened to the preset? >> what happened to the priesthood? i went when i was in ninth grade
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and somewhere between 14 and 15, the hormones kicked in. i liked girls, and i read the rulebook and i figured this is not for me. [laughter] because girls looked really good, and there was just something about that. this is a good idea, girls. so i went in to tell the priest or the dean or whatever that i decided not to come back next year. before i get a chance to tell them that, he says to me, mr. moore we have decided to ask you not to come back next year. what do you mean? i came in here to quit. you can't kick me out. i am quitting. no, we are asking -- he said well good, we are in agreement. i said why would you want to get me out? he goes, because you ask too many questions. [laughter] i said, questions?
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because i did. i wanted to know why women could not be preset and why is that? he did not make any sense to me. or the whole thing about you know, when life begins, human life and the concept of a fertilized egg being a human being. i was like, well, is life and an in an egg is life. it does not have a battery pack on it. it is a living -- why do we protect that? why do we stop women each month from losing these eggs? they were like going crazy. no, that is not a human being. i don't know if a fertilized egg is life. a stem is not a flower. you don't say your birthday -- you don't pull out your driver's license. it is not nine months from before you were born. it is when you were born. you are a human.
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so i don't know, it was way to advance at that point and they probably thought i was trouble i guess. >> what did you study michael moore mark -- moore at the university of michigan and find. >> added double major of political science and theater. so, the year ahead there went well. i dropped out though. again, i was probably bored with school. i had just gotten elected to the board of education at 18 years old. it was right after 18-year-olds got the right to vote. it was called the davison school district, and 18-year-olds had just been given the right to vote. i decided to run, and became the youngest elected official in the state of michigan. and i was learning more about clinical science doing it than i was sitting in a classroom.
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so, the first day of my second semester of my sophomore year, being a commuter campus you had to drive. never enough parking. i drove around and around the parking lot for about an hour looking for a parking spot. couldn't find one and after an hour i just said screw it, i'm dropping out and i did. i have never been back to school since. i wenhold and told my parents i just dropped out of college. why? i could not find a parking space. that is not a reason. i said yes it is. i'm sick of it. stay in school, kids. don't drop out. >> what does your dad think of your work and what did your mom think of your work? >> they were very proud of me. my mom was very proud of me especially with writing, because it was something so important to her. when she was growing up my grandparents -- i can't tell you what color the walls were in their home or if they had wallpaper because there is nothing but books. it was just every wall was all
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bookshelves, and they read. they read at night. they read shakespeare and they would read all the plays and they would read to each other. a lot of fat was passed on. and i tell the story in the book of my great great grandfather coming from where they were in pennsylvania and in new york and then they took a boat down leigh geary into michigan. they had these big crates and were a lot of people had pots and pans and things they were bringing, they had some pots and pans but they had crates of looks. it was education and being literate and being aware of the world around you. it was important. >> will you be doing a book tour on here comes trouble? >> yes. i'm going to do a book tour this fall. it actually clears the deck for the fall and i'm going to travel country and do what i think will
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be an interesting book. the last one i did was, it was a lot of larger readings, and we had -- i mean it was an amazing to her. we had people at the university of florida in gainesville, like 14,000 people showed up to hear me speak. and, it was very humbling on some level, but so i'm going to do a little bit about this year but i want to hit the back roads. i want to go to places that normally don't get authors. i might just get a camper or something and some kind of mini-bus or whatever and do libraries and some bookstores, a little bit off the beaten path. and i like going to places that are not the typical ann arbor, madison, berkeley, where there is an echo chamber. i like going -- i like going to
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places down south. i like going to military towns. i like talking to people who maybe disagree with me or think they disagree with me and it is good for me to listen to them. i want them to know that while we may have our political differences, we are all americans. we are all in the same boat. we think are some together and we have -- all of us more in common with each other than not. if you make a list of all the things we disagree on comment is a much shorter list than the things we all agree on. we all want good schools for our kids. we want to drink clean water and breathe clean air. most now think that women should be paid the same as men. we could make a list of things that we have disagreement on and the things we disagree on, you know if i don't want a gun, i won't buy one. if you want a gun, buy one. if you want to kiss another man,
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for god sakes, don't. i don't think you'll like it but if somebody else wants to and they want to get married, hey, come on, right? >> what kind of reception do you get when you go to maybe a conservative town or a military town? are you energized by the back-and-forth or does it get hostile? >> military towns never get hostile. some of my best fan mail are from soldiers and people in the navy and the marines and their spouses and their children. you know i have really stood up for them. even though i was from the very beginning against the war, i did not like how they were being treated. i did not like how they were given vehicles that were killing them, that when they come back -- up where he lived in northern michigan eye of the movie house that i run for the
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community, and i instituted an affirmative action policy at the theater that says that, first of all, anybody who is in the military can come to the movies for free but that we want to hire iraq and afghanistan veterans, and i said to the rest of the town, they are coming back and they are -- our arms need to be open to them. those from the vietnam era know the importance of what they are going through and what they are processing. they are coming back from an unpopular war. they need -- they need to love the love and the support of their community so i've been very active in things like that and doing things to help the troops and whatever. so, get a very good response. our troops are essentially from the working class, and they are
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african-american and they are hispanic. they are from groups of people that already know what the deal is. you know, they don't come primarily from bel air and bel air california or the upper east side of new york. they come from where i come from. i understand that. >> michael moore was a tough to write this book? because of the personal? >> was very hard and impact of put it off for a long time. i've been writing this book for probably a couple of decades, and then i started, really started writing it down a very -- a couple of years ago. i spent a lot of time on this book, and i spent many nights -- i would be sitting in the chair at the computer and i would be laughing one minute at my ex-wife in the next minute i would write down and start crying because you know, when you read this you will see some of the things i have been
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through but it was very cathartic in that way. i mean it was really powerful. i mean personally i am the proudest of this then anything i've written. and i set out with that in mind, even though these are not -- stories, i said you know the nun in my head said that i must treat this as literature and i'm going to reach deep into all that i had been given from my parents, from those good nuns, and from the life i have lived to tell the stories. >> so, what was your -- what would your editor say about working with you? >> what would my editor say? >> working with you. >> she would say here comes trouble. that is when i told her the title. she was like, oh yeah. she just told me, the title is
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very popular at the publishing house. i said yeah, i can understand why. the problem they have with me at the publisher is that i don't want to do a six city book tour. i will do more. a lot of times authors, they have to drag them out of the barn but with me they have got to try and cool my jets because i want to get out there and i want to talk to people and i wanted to share this with people in the country that i live in. >> author michael moore, here comes trouble, out in the fall of 2011. >> thank you. >> back in july of 1926, 85 years ago this month, this country was celebrating its sesquicentennial, our 150th national birthday and here in texas i imagine it was quite a big deal. in fort worth, texas, ways from
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here the festivities were overshadowed somewhat by a brewing local battle, one that involve political religious business and civic leaders. the catalyst of this particular battle was a preacher. the issues were both public and personal and the citizens found themselves polarized. some talk about conspiracies and others about troublemakers. on july the 17th, 1921 a successful businessman, someone well connected to the movers and shakers of the town, went to pay a visit on a local pastor but this was not just any pastor. far from the typical man of the cloth of this day he was a multifaceted personality ruling over religious empire. more than just a preacher he presided over the largest protestant congregation in america. in many ways america's first mega-church. he was a radio broadcasting pioneer and the publisher of faith popular if at times polemical tabloid newspaper and
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he was viewed by many beyond texas as the emerging leader of a movement then near its apex, and movement called fundamentalism. as the businessman argued with a preacher that day the language became hot and win a few moments gave way to the thunder of four gunshots, three of which struck the businessman, he fell and was left for debt. no one was in the church office and there were 20 people working there, approach them and to offer help. said police arrived and an indolence but before the man reached the hospital he had breathed his last breath. the debt man was named dexter elia chips known as de to just about everybody. the preacher was the reverend dr. john franklin norris, well-known as j. franklin of the texas tornado or too many in fort worth simply as that man. the story of what happened that day 85 years ago, and the following six months or so is likely what i call the most famous story you have never heard. and the story reached all the
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way here to austin, because of the trial which was one of the most celebrated trials of the decade. it was known for famous trials like the stokes trial -- scopes trial and leopold and sacco and vanzetti and so forth. this trial was one of the most captivating at the time. it has been lost in history. is a footnote in a lot of books and a footnote that is made into some places but never received its full treatment i think. the context of courses the 1920s, which is have always done to be a fascinating time. it was the time just after the world's changed and the soldiers that, here we have just this year in march, the last living soldier of world war i, a man in hundred and 10 years old, was buried at arlington national cemetery. there are no more from that era and fewer we see everyday from
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the greatest generation, world war ii. in the 1920s people came back from world war i and they had a change of view. somewhat i think influence from what they saw in europe and what we know about the 1920s as you had two things that started happening at the same time. one is this tremendous revolution in manners and morals of the country. they were sort of casting off restraints. you have women voting and you have a lot of independents. you have a bit of a sexual revolution that goes on. you have all the media thinks a come along, radio of course becomes a very popular medium, eventually becoming the media of the day. tabloid newspapers are still very strong. movies, the film industry had been around for a few years but really reached its -- got its traction in the 1920s. and along with that celebrity came along. what andy warhol would later describe as

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